08/07/2003 at 12:00 AM EDT
"Velvet teddy bear" Ruben Studdard, the 25-year-old "American Idol" winner who wore oversized jerseys adorned with his Alabama area code 205 throughout the televised competition, purportedly received a cash kickback, according to the owners of the hip-hop clothing line 205 Flava Inc., reports the Associated Press.
Lawyers for 205 owners Willie and Frederick Jenkins displayed copies of $10,000 in checks made out to Kevin Studdard (the singer's brother) and his manager, Ron Edwards, during a press conference in Birmingham on Monday, claiming his clients secretly paid Ruben $1,000 a week -- which then rose to $1,500 as the competition progressed -- despite a rule by the FOX network banning the singers from signing endorsement deals while on the show.
The claim follows a lawsuit lodged by Studdard against 205 Flava earlier this week accusing the clothing company of exploiting the singer and wrongly profiting from his popularity. The original suit asked for an injunction against further use of Studdard's image, plus a share of the company's estimated $2 million in profits.
But another lawyer for the Jenkins brothers, LaVeeda Morgan Battle, refuted Studdard's claim to any future payment. "The payments were made as full and fair compensation," Battle said, according to AP.
As of Thursday, there was no response from Studdard's camp. "The public will hear from us soon," said Studdard's lawyer, Byron Perkins.